“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it”
– Michelangelo

Sculpture is an artistic form which can bring life out of even the most trivial materials. It can treat our visual senses to a three-dimensional form of art, along with helping us see the world from a different perspective. From idols of Gods and Goddesses used for worship to carvings of human beings for making themselves immortal, there are plenty of purposes behind creating a Sculpture. Before we see the list of most famous sculptures of the world, let’s take sneak peek into its background.

The history of carving objects on stones, metals, wood and other materials dates back to the pre-historic era, when our early ancestors paved way for this art form by scratching on the cave walls. Later, many civilizations like Greek, Roman, Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China and others developed their own form of sculptures to express their ideas and beliefs. These ranged from simple nature-inspired motifs, abstract forms to even hyper-realistic statues. Most of them can found in the temples and other important shrines.

Today, Sculptures are no more confined to rocks! The new-age Sculptors believe that no material is unqualified to carve outa beautiful figurine. Everyday things like soaps, glass, pencils, grains and even trash can be transformed into highly complex, artistic pieces. This article serves as an ode to some of the best Sculptures in the world, which are masterpieces in their own forms.

20 Creative Ancient and Modern Sculptures in World:

Here is a fabulous collection of creative sculptures in India and across the world made with different mediums and materials:

1. The Oldest Nataraja Sculpture in India:

Nataraja is the dancing form of Lord Shiva, which symbolizes the holy union of nature with the divine. This bronze statue of Shiva Nataraja belongs to the Chola period of 11th Century. It features a fire halo within which the Lord takes his dance position. The two upper hands hold a Damru and Agni, while the lower hands showcase the Abhayamudra. He tramples on the Apasmara Purusha, which is the symbol for illusion in mankind. Even after so many centuries, it’s amazing to see how the sculpture has withstood the test of time.

  • Artist Name: Unknown artist from Chola Dynasty
  • Location: Florence and Herbert Irving Galleries for South and Southeast Asian Art, USA
  • Material: Bronze
  • Date: 11th Century ca.

2. Gajendra Peeth – Akshardham Temple:

Gajendra Peeth, is the lower platform of the main shrine in Akshardham temple, in New Delhi. It is designed to showcase that the entire mandir stands on the shoulders of these mighty elephants. With about 148 elephants weighing about 3000 tons and carved in different sizes and forms, this awe-inspiring stone structure makes for one of the most famous elephant sculptures in India.

  • Artist Name: Different Artisans
  • Location: Akshardam Temple, New Delhi, India
  • Material: Rock
  • Date: 6 November2005

3. The Mighty Horses Of Konark Chariot:

The Konark Chariot is one of the world’s most iconic structures, which is depicted to have 7 horses pull it. These horses have different symbolic meanings associated with them. While some of them perceive them to stand for the 7 days of a week, the other see them as the seven colors of the rainbow. This horse sculpture is also one of the oldest in India, and is party destroyed due to invasions.

  • Built By: Raja Narsingha Deva – I of Ganga Dynasty
  • Location: Konark Temple, Odisha
  • Material: Rock
  • Date:Mid of 13th Century

4. The Ashoka Pillar – Sarnath:

The Ashoka Pillar, popularly called as the Lion Capital of Ashoka sculpture, is located in Sarnath, India. It was built by Ashoka, the emperor of Maurya Kingdom. The structure features 4 lions sitting on their hind legs on a tall pillar, facing different directions. Each of these Asiatic lions symbolize power, courage, confidence and truth. This later became the National Emblem of India.

  • Built By: Emperor Ashoka
  • Location: Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh
  • Material: Stone
  • Date:3rd Century

5. Apsara- The Celestial Female:

If beauty had a visual form, it would probably look like this sandstone statue of Apsara! As per the Indian mythology, Apsaras are celestial or supernatural beings who are exceptionally beautiful. They are divine dancers and have graceful, dainty bodies. This 12th-century statue is one of the world-famous female rock sculptures, which depict the high level of detailing. With sensuous body parts, sharp features and exquisite jewellery, no human being can attempt to look as amazing as this lady!

  • Built By: Unknown
  • Location: Museum, United States
  • Material: Stone
  • Date:12th Century

6. Jatayu – the world’s Largest Bird Sculpture:

In the Kollam district of Kerala stands a magnificent statue of Jatayu, the mythological bird from Ramayana, which is the largest bird sculpture in the world. It measures a whopping 200 feet length, 150 mts breadth and 70 mts in height. The statue is placed at an altitude of 1200 ft above sea level and symbolizes protection of women. The place is also called Jatayu Earth’s Center or Jatayu Rock and is a park, nature center and museum area.

  • Artist: Rajiv Anchal
  • Location: Chadayamangalam, Kollam District, Kerala
  • Material: Cement and Stone
  • Date:5th December 2017

See More: Best Tourist Places in India

7. The Bean – Chicago, United States:

The Cloud Gate, popularly called by the name “Bean” is considered to be one of the greatest public sculptures in the world. It is designed and developed by Sir Anish Kapoor, a renowned British born, Indian artist. The entire structure is made with 168 stainless pieces, which are seamlessly welded together to reflect the city’s skyline. It has now become the iconic structures of Chicago, where thousands of visitors throng each day to click pictures on the unique reflective surface of the statue.

  • Artist: Anish Kapoor
  • Location: Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Date:15th May 2006

8. David by Michelangelo:

David, a Renaissance sculpture created by the Italian artist Michelangelo is one of the masterpieces in the world. The statue depicts the biblical hero called David, who stands about 14 ft tall and carved all nude in white marble. For the intense expressions on his face, David soon became the “symbol of liberty and freedom” of the Republicans. To protect it from damage due to weather and exposure, the original piece was moved to the Galleria dell’Accademia in 1873 and replaced by a replica.

  • Artist: Michelangelo
  • Location: Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence, Italy
  • Material: Marble
  • Period:1501-1504

9. Michelangelo’s Pieta:

Pieta is considered to be the signature sculptures of Michelangelo, as it his only structure which bears his signature. Pieta means “Pity”, which uses the theme of Mary holding the crucified body of Jesus in her lap. The amount of detailing of this statue in terms of the draping, the expressions and the physical aspects of the figures are unbelievable. It is carved out of a fine marble and is about 1.74m by 1.95m.

  • Artist: Michelangelo
  • Location: St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
  • Material: Marble
  • Period:1498-1499

10. The Force of Nature, Doha:

The Force of Nature is one of the most impressive modern sculptures of the world. It was created by Lorenzo Quinn, an Italian Sculptor who wanted to give a strong message to the world on the power of nature. The idea was coined after the series of mass destruction in Thailand and other parts of the world brought on by violent hurricanes. The status shows how tiny and helpless are we in front of Mother Nature’s fury!

  • Artist: Lorenzo Quinn
  • Location: Cultural Village, Doha, Qatar
  • Material: Bronze, Stainless Steel and Aluminium
  • Period: October 2011

11. Soap Sculptures by Narong:

Narong Noppamartis a Thai artist, who is globally recognized for this exquisite soap carvings. With a soft medium like soap, it is astonishing to see how she converts it into complex and intricate structures. From simple baskets to highly ornate dragons, mythological creatures to contemporary motifs, Narong has raised a new bar in the ancient tradition of soap carving in Thalland.

  • Artist: Narong Noppamart
  • Location: Thailand
  • Material: Soap

12. The Moon Dog, Minimalistic Abstract Art:

In the world of abstract sculpture art, the Moon dog is recognized to be one of the best installations of the Minimalism movement. It is a geometric structure that comprises of 15 octahedra and 10 tetrahedra shapes arranged to create a perfect symmetry. The moon dog, named after a blind poet and composer Moondog was created by Tony Smith in the year 1964.

  • Artist: Tony Smith
  • Location: National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Washington, USA
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Year:1964

13. Surreal Bust Sculptures By Yuanxing Liang:

Yuanxing Liang is a Chinese artist who can create whimsical pieces out of clay. Each piece is highly detailed and three dimensional, which comprises of fantastical characters and elements of the ancient Chinese mythology. These handmade statues take up to a few months to finish because of the amount of detailing. From the tiniest aspects to the most visible expressions on the faces of the figurines, Liang truly delivers one-of-a-kind clay statues in the world!

  • Artist: Tony Smith
  • Location: National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Washington, USA
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Year: 1964

See More: Famous Museums in Delhi

14. Ali and Nino, The Metal Art Sculptures:

Ali and Nino, the man and woman metal wind sculptures which move are located in Georgia. Originally called the “Love statue”, the figure measures a 26-foot-tall and commemorates the tragic love story of Ali, a Muslim boy and Nino, the Georgian princess. It is designed with a special technology that enables the figures to move for 10 minutes each day. They briefly embrace each other and then move away.

  • Artist: Tamara Kvesitadze
  • Location: Seaside, Batumi, Georgia
  • Material: Steel
  • Year: 2010

15. The Guitar, Paper Sculpture by Pablo Picasso:

Pablo Picasso created a revolution with this paper sculpture “The Guitar”. He paved way for a new form of sculpting, which uses the technique of assemblage. This was very different from the traditional way of making figurines using molding, carving etc., He used paper, cardboard, string and wires to create this muted instrument, which was the first-ever durable piece done with a fragile medium like paper.

  • Artist: Pablo Picasso
  • Location: The Museum Of Modern Art
  • Material: Paper
  • Year:1912

16. The Fireworks of Glass, World’s Largest Permanent Glass Sculpture:

The Fireworks of Glass is a permanent structure erected in the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, USA. It is housed on a glass base and rises up to 43 feet into the Pergola ceiling, which is also made with 1600 pieces of multicoloured glass. The entire tower is made with 3200 piece of different coloured glass pieces. This piece is an example of the dramatic artistry of Dale Chihuly, who is one of the world’s best glass sculptors.

  • Artist: Dale Chihuly
  • Location: The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, USA
  • Material: Glass
  • Year:2006

17. The Mermaid 0f Warsaw, The World Famous Metal Statue:

The Mermaid of Warsaw is located in the Old Town Square of Warsaw, Poland. It was created after a legendary tale of Mermaid that was caught by the local fisherman. As per tales, the creature, which looked like a fish was trapped in the fishing nets and started singing. She was later imprisoned by a rich merchant and was released later by the city residents. Ever since then, the status of her armed with a sword and a shield, was erected in the town center to offer a sense of security and protection.

  • Artist: Konstanty Hegel
  • Location: Old Town Square, Warsaw
  • Material: Bronze Zinc
  • Year:1855

18. The Largest Wooden Buddha SculptureIn The World:

In the Lama Temple of Beijing, one can find the tallest wooden sculpture in the world of Gautama Buddha. The interesting fact about this statue is that it is entirely carved out of a single tree trunk and stands about 18 feet tall. The hand-made figure was made during the Qing dynasty and despite many threats from nature and humans, the temple and the statue remains untouched.

  • Artist: Unknown
  • Location: Lama Temple, Beijing
  • Material: Wood
  • Year:1694

19. That Sinking Feeling, Christopher David White:

This statue looks like it is made out of wood! But, it’s not! David Christopher White, one of the new generation ceramic artists creates statues that can trick our eyes. This ceramic sculpture is made with ceramic and acrylic material, using a special technique to give it a wood like appearance. You can even notice the details of the human expressions, skin texture and the veins on the statues.

  • Artist: David Christopher White
  • Material: Ceramic
  • Year: 2016

20. The Terracotta Army, China:

The Terracotta Army is a group of more than 8000 clay statues of the warriors. It is one of the oldest and the largest collection of clay sculptures excavated in China. As per archeologists, the first Chinese Emperor Shi Huang, wanted an army of soldiers to guard him afterlife. So, he commissioned thousands of artists to mould, assemble and paint the figures of different sized soldiers, based on their military rank. Along with them are the statues of 670 horses and 130 chariots.

  • Location: Terracotta Warriors Museum, Xian Province, China
  • Material: Terracotta
  • Year:446 BC- 221 BC

That ends our beautiful collection of the most famous sculptures of the world. More than the actual ranking of these statues, we wanted to give focus to the uniqueness of the design and the choice of the material. Behind each of these sculptures is a mesmerizing story that served as a muse to the artist. Have you visited any of these monuments or atleast read about them? Do tell us which among them is your favorite!


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